The 48-hour dark period in response to Reddit’s controversial changes to its third-party API policies started on Monday, resulting in five of the site’s ten largest subreddits going private in protest.
Shortly thereafter, The World Happiness Report (TWHR) tweeted that it had detected an immediate and substantial uptick in America’s cumulative happiness as measured and reported on in its annual report on living standards satisfaction. SN had a chance to catch up with TWHR’s Chief Economist Bart Goodwin.
“It’s just astounding that something as simple as a website going down could have such a swift and profound impact. I mean, America just put Ireland, Canada, and Australia in its rearview mirror,” Goodwin said.
As the self-proclaimed “…front page of the internet,” Reddit has long been home to funny cat videos and recycled Facebook memes. More recently, though, Reddit has acquired a reputation as a tribal cesspool where extreme political opinions fly freely, with trolling and contentious discussions often ensuing. As it turns out, that tense discourse environment was apparently having a negative effect on the country’s cumulative satisfaction.
When asked how Redditors might be filling their now open schedules, Goodwin speculated.
“These people are going outside for the first time in a long time. Their Vitamin D levels are probably spiking, they might even be taking walks, drinking water, and speaking to their neighbors.”
Goodwin said that if America wanted to push into the top 10 in the rankings, it would need to see some really substantial policy changes.
“If you’re going to gain ground on countries like Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, you’re going to have to really dream big…we’re talking universal healthcare, UBI, progress on climate change.”
Goodwin paused for a moment, and then continued, “Or maybe just getting rid of Instagram?”